Book Review: The Education of Millionaires

Do you want to chase degrees, or do you want to chase success?
— Michael Ellsberg, The Education of Millionaires

Author Michael Ellsberg claims that the new rich are learning how to rise above college degrees by "bootstrapping" their learning in his book, Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful.

For the book, Ellsberg interviewed many college dropouts and entrepreneurs who are now making millions of dollars to discover the skills that made them successful.

He starts with the premise that although what we learn in college can be enlightening, it is mainly abstract and unusable. The "education of millionaires" is built around practical advice that will help you attain your goals and get you further in life.

I've gravitated towards the idea that the reason I don't enjoy many of my college courses is because the knowledge I've gained from these courses is, like Ellsberg says, not instantly usable.

I'm not the type of learner who can enjoy playing with imaginary ideas for 2 straight undergraduate years in the hopes my intuition will be trained to better deal with real-world business decisions. Maybe you aren't either.

That's why Ellsberg recommends "bootstrapping" your education. This is essentially the main point in his book.

What is bootstrapping?

In simple terms, it means taking control of your education and choosing to learn the things that will make you more employable, more efficient, and more successful.

Traditional higher education is focused on your achievement in a 4-month course. Bootstrapped education is focused on your achievement in your life.

Traditional schooling is evaluated by people who have no stake, while bootstrapped education is evaluated by the real world and your successes and failures in dealing with people and companies.

That's what bootstrapping is all about and why it's so appealing to me: learning the skills that can help you NOW and not 4 years in the hopeful future.

My Ideal Version of Education

I think it makes better sense to learn applicable job skills first, so that we can practice them and have the potential to make a living off of them. After that, we can start to appreciate the theory behind these practices.

In modern times, the goal that society pushes on the ages of 6-22 is simply this: get good grades.

But that's not what leads to success today.

It's actually misleading to tell people that the safe route is to work hard to get good grades in school and that is what will get you a secure job so that you never have to worry about money again.

People don't hire you because you have a 4.0 GPA.

People hire you on the basis of the value you provide. Sure, based on your degree, people know that you can follow directions and complete assignments, but can you be a leader? 

Employers don't need robots (they can just buy them), they need creative people who are willing to provide the ingenuity that a machine just can't provide.

Success will come if you start building real skills that provide value for other people.

But what do you need to learn to start providing value and start living a successful life?

The 7 Skills for Success

Ellsberg breaks it down into 7 chapters and these are the lessons I have extracted from each chapter:

  1. Get financially stable, then work on finding meaning in your work
  2. Find a great mentor and build your network
  3. Teach yourself marketing
  4. Teach yourself sales
  5. Invest in your self-education
  6. Build your brand online
  7. Adopt the entrepreneurial mindset over the employee mindset

I did find a lot of value out of knowing what skills are applicable to any industry and how you can go about teaching yourself. These skills are broad and applicable to all job-seekers and entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, it does feel like Ellsberg is just plugging in a lot of his friends' products, but then again, I would do the same if I truly felt that a book or seminar would help someone. The book is centered around teaching people to become "bootstrappers" and find materials to learn by themselves, so it makes sense to offer recommendations.

If you've been unsatisfied with your education at any point in your life, that's okay. You can start bootstrapping at any time.

While a little too wordy and cross-promotional, The Education of Millionaires does provide a good basis to start learning how you can start learning the things that will help you achieve your goals.

Rating: 4/5